Cliff the Elephant Seal
  |  First Published: May 2006

Unfortunately, Mornington has lost one of its most recent landmarks, Cliff the elephant seal.

Named ‘Cliff’ because he was first sighted at Queenscliff earlier this year, he entered the sheltered waters of Mornington Harbour and then became sick and disorientated.

At 500lb and about 8ft long, he was pretty hard to miss, and consequently received lots of attention from local residents and fishermen. He quickly became very tame and accepted various food items that were offered to him. Unfortunately, this caused his condition to deteriorate and a Melbourne Zoo Vet put him down after an examination at the end of March.

Local wildlife rescue organisations kept a close eye on Cliff until the end, which was especially necessary due to the attention he was receiving. I’m no great seal lover, and I’m no happier than the next angler when one of my precious snapper gets pinched by a cheeky seal, but it was disturbing to hear that some of my fellow anglers were less than friendly to 7 year old Cliff.

I was alerted to his presence by a fellow angler and am grateful I got to witness and photograph such a magnificent animal up close. Like all the creatures in our magnificent bay, seals like Cliff have just as much right to be there as us, maybe more. I’m not going to start a save the seals campaign, but I was definitely touched by this awesome animal that was a long way from home.

Special thanks go to Pat and Kim from WHOM Wildlife Rescue for their passionate work, and taking time to enlighten me on the life of the elephant seal. I am definitely better off for the experience.

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